Top positive review
An excellent addition to the series
on 24 July 2013
Another constant-action mission for circlemaster Halfdan, in his character of jewel merchant Basil Callenius, with Caina acting as his younger daughter, her new lover (Corvalis) as the party's guard, and Corvalis' sister (Claudia) as Basil's elder daughter. The latter siblings have pasts as complicated as Caina's own, and, although offered places within the Ghosts, things are clearly not going to be as simple as might be hoped for relationships with the ex-Kindred assassin and his sister, a former magus of the Magisterium. Sent as part of the Emperor's mission to negotiate for a weapon which is proclaimed as an invention which will stop all wars, the team meet up with old enemies and new, plots within plots, magic, necromancy, and personal betrayal, yet they form some strange new friendships, which may be useful in the future. Throughout the excitement, murder, and mayhem, Caina is still plagued - and, oddly, helped - by the ever-present Jadriga, even while being in constant danger from the unstoppable Sicarion.
The plot is extremely clever, and Jonathan Moeller is to be congratulated on the power of his writing skills, which draw the reader into the lands and peoples of his imagination, yet make his characters rounded, believable beings with all our own flaws and weaknesses. His baddies are bad; his goodies are good, but their reactions to each other are convincing, and even the minor characters stay with you after the end of the story. Since Halfdan begins by warning that if Corvalis causes any hurt to Caina, Halfdan will be obliged to kill him, it will be interesting to see where the next instalment goes... and then there is the question of what will happen to Jadriga... and there's the rather interesting stormdancer, and the war against the Emperor... and what about that coffee shop... I've just read the short story "Ghost Claws", and am off to find out more in "Ghost in the Ashes".
You may want to know that there are still quite a few errors in the text, where the spell-check has allowed the wrong word to be inserted, and sometimes words are left out entirely, but these are momentary distractions from a fascinating tale.
While it would be possible to read this book as a stand-alone, I would strongly recommend the books be read in order, to get the maximum pleasure from the growth of the story and the development of the characters, and more readily appreciate the complexities of the regular characters and their histories.